April 1, 2013

It's Still There

There are many things in my life to thank the Lord for, but I am most grateful that someone took the time to invite me to church. I am thankful that the Lord can find people no matter where they are. In my case, I was across the creek, and God was able to find me there.

When I was growing up, my family lived in Roseburg, Oregon. Also, my parents had a ranch in Rogue River, a city about seventy-five miles south of our home, and my grandparents on my dad’s side lived there. In the summertime we spent the weekdays at the ranch. On the weekends, we went home so my folks could catch up at their pizza business. As well as doing chores at the ranch, there were many opportunities for my two sisters and me to ride horses, which I loved. Dad bought my first horse—a Shetland pony named Misty—when I was about twelve years old.

After I was in junior high school, my folks moved to a place across town that had more property and a bigger house. There was enough acreage to have cows as well as our horses. Our property had a creek on it, and to get to our barn, we had to cross the creek and walk on the other side. The neighbors on that side—the Chasteens—had five boys and one girl. Not long after we moved, my sisters and I met the Chasteen boys in a cow pasture and started talking. Because I was cocky, I said some swear words. When they did not respond, I thought to myself that there was something different about them.

Before long, the Chasteens invited us to the Apostolic Faith Sunday school, and I went. On my second visit, I stayed for the church service which followed and heard something I had never heard before—that Jesus died on the Cross so I could be saved from my sins. In spite of limited knowledge, that really resonated with my heart, and God revealed Himself to me in a mighty way.

After the service, I went to the altar bench at the front of the church and prayed. I had never prayed at an altar before and did not know what to say or what to do, but the Lord was faithful to show me. I remember thinking that, although I had lied and taken the Lord’s name in vain, I really hadn’t done anything terribly bad. But it condemned my soul to know that Jesus had died for me. It just broke me to pieces, and I felt so dirty. I asked Him to come into my heart, and He did. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was so wonderful.

When I went home after that meeting, my face had a smile, and I was excited and wanted to tell everybody. In my mind, I wondered if what I felt in my heart would fade away. Later that afternoon, a girlfriend and I were riding horses, and I can remember thinking, “It’s still there! It’s still there!” Salvation was so real to me that day, and it is still real today.

Although I did not know what being a Christian would mean, God was faithful to teach me. The cursing was gone; there was no longer any desire for it. As questions would come up, our neighbor lady and other women in the church were so caring and supportive. There was a desire in my heart to look like a Christian, and this prompted me to learn to sew. My mother helped me make a skirt, and after that I learned by trial and error—there were some dramatic errors, but I learned by doing.

When I felt lonely, God was there. I could whisper a prayer, and it was almost like calling Him on the phone. If I said, “Lord, I need You,” He would help me. My bedroom was the only one in our daylight basement, and there were times when my parents probably heard me praying. Because I wanted to be kept, God took me through day by day.

The people at the church invited me to a camp meeting in Portland, Oregon. While praying with two other girls in our cabin, God sanctified me. Again, I did not know what to expect, but I knew when I received it. God’s Spirit let me know in my heart. Later, God baptized me with the Holy Spirit as I tarried in prayer with some faithful ladies. I was so happy and excited, and that experience gave me real fervency. I was going home by bus, and while waiting at the depot, I handed out Christian tracts. My desire was to share the wonderful news of what Jesus Christ can do in a person’s life.

When we were in high school, Jack—one of the neighbor boys—and I began dating. The summer after we graduated, we were at camp meeting in Portland at the same time. Right before it was time to go home, Jack asked me to marry him, and I was happy to say yes. Our wedding was February 14, 1975.

The Lord has brought me through some trials, but every day there has been comfort because I knew I had a Savior. There would have been trials whether I was a Christian or not. As a Christian, I have had the best Friend in the world walking right by my side—One who cares for me and loves me. When I am hurting, I fall to my knees and ask Him to help me. There have been happy times, too. I thank God for the many things He has done for me. He gave me a wonderful husband and family. He’s given me great friends.

Not long after I was saved, my dad bought a sewing machine for me, and that became an enjoyable activity that has continued all these years. The Lord has helped me use it as an instrument to reach out to others and an opportunity to teach and share. We’ve been able to give away clothes and quilts, and I’ve encouraged young women to sew as a way to help their families.

The Lord has been with me in business places. For nearly ten years, I was the manager of an orthodontic office. On my desk was a little plaque with the verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). When difficulties came up, the Lord helped me to pause and consider this verse. I would say to myself, “More of Christ will help me through this.” When I would read my Bible and pray a little more, the Lord always fulfilled His promise.

Then God took this Sunday school girl and made her a pastor’s wife. That is a privilege! When my husband was asked to be a pastor, it brought new opportunities and also some new challenges. It was necessary for me to learn about a new role in life. My husband needed a wife, not a manager! Financially it was a big change. After we moved, we were still trying to sell our home in Roseburg, and I wondered how we would be able to continue making the payments. Then a government refund check came for something that we did not realize had been overpaid. It let me see that God knew exactly what was going on, and He would take care of us. There have been times when we were asked to relocate and I felt nervous about things, but God has always been faithful to help us. When we move to a new place, we learn to know more people and make new friends. The family of God has been so good to me.

In recent years we’ve had the opportunity to visit churches in the Caribbean. It has been a blessing to fellowship with the believers there, and now we have even more friends spread further around the world.

When I was a girl, my dad told me, “If you get bucked off a horse, get right back on. If you don’t, you will have fear.” In my youth, I was bucked off, rolled on, and stepped on by horses, and I proved that Dad was right. Serving God can be a bit like that. When hard things come in life, it might feel as if we’ve been “bucked off” or “rolled on,” but when we purpose to keep going with God, He delivers us from fear and helps us keep serving Him.

I try to start each day by asking, “Lord, help me to reflect Your love to someone; help me to reflect Your love to this world.”

Most importantly, God has given me the opportunity of eternal life. The Lord is coming soon. I feel it in my heart, and I know others do, too. I try to start each day by asking, “Lord, help me to reflect Your love to someone; help me to reflect Your love to this world.” I am so thankful for every day and every opportunity that He gives me. I want to be a light for Him in this world. I have learned that if I will just love God, He will love me back many times more.

apostolic faith magazine